A friend recently e-mailed me the video clip below and shared his concern about the events taking place down in Lakeland, Fla.
I understand my friend’s concern about people getting caught up in reports of miracles and charismatic services if the Gospel message is being compromised. While I certainly understand concern about focusing on angels and not Jesus, I don’t know if we can look at one part of a sermon and completely judge an entire ministry. Just as sound bites or YouTube clips can be misused in politics, the same thing can happen in discussions about issue of faith. Bentley has a point that many Christians believe in the Jesus of the Bible, but they struggle with believing in Christ’s presence here and now in our world. Many of us struggle with the supernatural. I know that I do. It can be easy to outright dismiss anything that we don’t understand.
At the same time, I am always suspicious of people going some place to here some person to help them in their relationship with God. Mostly, I believe we need to be more abandoned to God right where we are at home. While I believe we need others in Christ’s body, I tend to think that many people go on pilgrimages, visit “anointed” leaders or go to worship/revival gatherings (such as Brownsville, Toronto, Lakeland, etc.) for the wrong reasons. But then, “Who am I to judge someone else’s servant?”
I have known a few godly people who have gone down to Lakeland and claimed to witness real moves of the Holy Spirit. I have also heard things like what you sent that cause me to believe the opposite. I am not sure what to believe other than that real revival starts on my knees more than anything else. Real healing happens as I personally allow God to do a deep work in my soul. And I don’t have to go to Florida for that. All I have to do is have the courage to really trust God and encounter Him at home.
It is our responsibility to test any teaching that comes out of the Lakeland movement by comparing it to Scripture. One thing I do agree with Bentley on is that we can all grow in faith and our ability to experience God’s Spirit work in our lives.
Here are some sites to view to consider what Bentley and others are saying about the ministry taking place in Lakeland. You be the judge. May you learn from it whatever God needs to show you so that you will grow closer in your walk with Jesus.
http://www.freshfire.ca/ – Main Todd Bentley Web Site
http://www.freshfire.ca/index.php?Id=106&pid=8 – Fresh Fire Ministries Statement of Faith
http://www.freshfire.ca/?Id=1059&pid=993 – Todd Bentley answers his critics
http://fieldnotes.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/05/29/1075189.aspx – MSNBC news story on Lakeland “Revival”
http://www.christianitymagazine.co.uk/features/florida.aspx – Article by Christianity Today